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The Way of the Tao
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OSHO : Tao The Three Treasures, Volume 4, Chapter 9

Lao Tzu says:
There is nothing weaker than water but none is superior to it in overcoming the hard, for which there is no substitute. That weakness overcomes strength and gentleness overcomes rigidity, no one does not know; no one can put into practice.

Therefore the sage says: Who receives unto himself the calumny of the world is the preserver of the state. Who bears himself the sins of the world is the king of the world.

Straight words seem crooked.

It is said that God created Adam but Adam was dead. Then God breathed in him and he became alive.

The same story is told in many creation myths all over the world: Christian, Hindu, Jewish and many others.

The story seems to be very significant. The meaning is that when you breathe, you don't breathe, God breathes in you. The whole breathes in you. This has to be understood very deeply because the whole method of Tao, the whole science of Yoga, depends on breath.

Because this is going to be the last lecture on Lao Tzu I would like to tell you everything about the system so that if you want you can move into it; not only think about it but become one with it.

The breath is the most important thing. With it life starts and with it life ends. It is the most mysterious thing; without it there is no possibility of life.

Life seems just a shadow of breath. When breath disappears, life disappears. So this phenomenon of breathing has to be understood.

Every child born is not really alive until he breathes. He has just a few moments left. If he breathes after the birth, in those few moments life enters. If he does not breathe he will remain dead.

Those first few moments of life are the most important. The doctors, the parents, all become concerned when a child is born. Will he breathe? Will he cry and start breathing? Or will he remain dead? Again, as in all the myths created, in every man Adam is born again.

The child cannot breathe on his own. To expect that is impossible because the child does not know how to breathe, nobody has taught him. This is going to be his first act, so this cannot be his act.

Let me repeat it: This is going to be his first and the most significant act -- that's why it cannot be his act. If God does it -- okay; if God is not willing -- finished.

The whole has to breathe in him, that's why those few moments are full with suspense, doubt, apprehension, fear -- because both possibilities are still open. The child can remain dead. Then nothing can be done. The child cannot do anything, the parents cannot do anything, the doctors cannot do anything; humanity is helpless. It is up to the whole.

Only prayer can be done. We can only wait in deep prayer. If the whole moves into the child, the child becomes alive, otherwise not.

This first breath is taken by the whole. And if the first breath is taken by the whole then everything else which depends on breathing cannot be your act. If you think you are breathing then you have taken a very wrong step. And because of this wrong step ego will be created. Ego is accumulated ignorance.

You missed. You have not been breathing, the whole has breathed into you, but you have taken it as if you are breathing.

The first act of breath bridges you with the whole, makes you one with the whole, and all that follows will not be your activity; all that is going to happen after this first breath till you die, till the last breath, is going to be the activity of the whole. The whole will live within you.

You can think that you are doing all those things -- then you live in ignorance. If you become aware that the whole is doing everything, you are being possessed by the whole, breathed by it, you are just a hollow bamboo, a flute, the sound comes from the whole, the whole life comes from it -- then you live a life of enlightenment.

This is the only difference between ignorance and enlightenment.

One step in error, that: "I have done it!" -- and the whole journey goes wrong. One step right, that: "The whole has been doing it in me, I am not the doer, I am just the field of his play, a flute of his songs, a reed, nothing more, an emptiness in which he flows, moves, lives!" -- then you live a totally different life, a life of light and bliss.

This is the first act, this breath. Many more things have to be understood about it.

If life starts with breath, and death also, and everything is between these two, then yoga, Tao, tantra, and all sciences of inner alchemy, cannot neglect breathing.

Yoga calls it prana. That word is beautiful. Yoga calls breathing prana. Prana means the elan vital, the very vitality of your being.

It is not just air coming and going through your lungs. Yoga says the air is just the outer layer of it. Hidden deep in that layer is vitality.

So breathing has two parts. One: the body of breathing, made up of oxygen, nitrogen and so on, and, two: the spirit of breathing, made up of vitality, God himself.

It is like your body is there, and you, your consciousness, is hidden deep down in your body. The body is a protection, a vehicle. The body is the visible vehicle for the non-visible you. And the same is the case with every breath. The breath itself is just the outer layer; hidden deep in it is life itself.

Once you discover that God himself is hidden in breath, you have come to know yourself. That's why there is so much insistence and so much search in yoga, Tao and tantra about breathing. If you simply go on breathing and thinking that this is just air coming in and going out you will never be able to penetrate the mystery of it. And you will remain completely oblivious of yourself. Then you will remain rooted in the body. You will never be able to know that which goes beyond the body, that which is within but yet beyond, that which is hidden in the body but not obstructed by the body, not limited by the body. A beyond within.

In each breath that life has to be discovered.

Yoga calls those methods pranayama. The word pranayama means expansion of life. One has to expand life to infinity in each breath.

Buddha has called his own methods of discovering the innermost core of breath anapana-sati yoga: the yoga, the science, of incoming and outgoing breath; and Buddha has said no other yoga is needed. If you can deeply watch your own breathing, and watch so meditatively that anything that is hidden in the breath does not remain hidden but becomes revealed, you will come to know all.

That looks simple, but it is difficult.

Buddha said to his monks: "Sitting, walking, standing, whatsoever you are doing, go on doing these things, but let your consciousness be aware of the breath coming in, going out. Go on looking at your own breath -- one day with the very continuous hammering on the breath, the temple opens."

The God is hidden in the temple of the breath. Suddenly one day you become aware that it is not just air. If for you it is just air, you have a scientific mind but you don't have the awareness which can reveal the innermost core of it. Then you can analyze and come to know how much oxygen is needed, how much hydrogen, how much nitrogen, how much carbon dioxide, and you can go on playing with the body of the breath -- but you missed the innermost real phenomenon.

That's why, if a man is dead, you can give him, pump into him, the right proportion of oxygen, but he will not be alive.

Unless God breathes in it, unless it contains the innermost consciousness of the whole, it is a dead breath. Oxygen will pass through the lungs -- nothing will happen.

Breath is the first action -- and it is not your action.

The second action is thirst. That too is not your action. What do you do to feel thirsty? If it happens, it happens; if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen. Can you try to feel thirsty? That is impossible! It happens deep inside you. God breathes in you, God feels thirsty in you -- or the whole does; when I say God I mean the whole. The part is just a part.

After the child has taken his first breath the second phenomenon will arise in him -- and now there is going to be a chain, and the whole chain has to be understood.

Thirst will arise. Then hunger will arise. Then there will be a need for physical activity. Then sex will arise. Then there will be a need for mental activity. Then love will arise. Then there will be a need for aesthetic activity: poetry, painting, music.... These are eight activities. And then the ninth, the last, arises: the need for spiritual activity -- meditation, samadhi.

And this is the beauty of the whole phenomenon -- that the ninth is again the first, because the ninth again pays attention to breath. The circle is complete. First is breath, ninth is again breath; that's why no spiritual science can neglect breathing. Even God can be neglected -- Buddhism does not believe in God, does not believe in soul -- that can be neglected; but breathing cannot be neglected.

Mohammedans and Christians may be having different conceptions of God, Hindus again different, Jains...but nobody can neglect breathing. Breathing is first and breathing is going to be last. Spiritual activity is coming back again to the first breath, to the original purity.

Now I would like to discuss all these phenomena, because that is your whole life.

First is breath, second thirst, third hunger. There are people who finish at the third, who think: eat, drink, be merry is all. Their life is not complete; they cannot feel fulfillment because the circle is not complete. Fulfillment means that you have completed the circle, the last has joined with the first -- then there is fulfillment.

People who you find fulfilled are a circle, not a line. A line is always incomplete. All desires move in a line, that's why no desire can ever be complete, because no desire moves in a circle. It is linear. It always moves, but is always incomplete.

Wherever you stop -- ten thousand rupees or ten million rupees, it makes no difference; wherever you stop, you are hanging. The thing is not complete; something is missing. You can become rich, you can become very powerful, but it will not be contentment. Contentment is only when your life energy becomes a circle.

Have you watched how the whole existence moves in a circle? The seasons move in a circle, the stars move in a circle, suns and planets move in a circle, the whole moves circularly, as a wheel? In life, in existence, nothing is linear. Everything is circular. And if you want to live a life of the whole you have to follow the ways of the whole: move like seasons, move like stars. Become a circle. When I say become a circle I mean come back to the original source.

Breath, thirst, hunger -- these are the first three steps. If you move only up to the third you have not entered the temple, you will be on the steps.

The fourth is physical activity. There are people who go up to the fourth. To them, physical activity becomes a sort of meditation.

In fact everything can become a sort of meditation, because in everything there are two dimensions -- just as there are in the first breath: the outer and the inner.

That's why fasting has been used. To fast is to try to discover in hunger the other dimension. Fasting means an effort to move into the desire of hunger and to come to know that; the divine. That's why fasting became so important in so many religions. It can give you a glimpse.

If you fast long the glimpse is possible. But I am not in support of it because you are not making the whole circle. You are jumping, not moving gracefully. From the third, hunger, you are trying to reach the first. It will be a small circle, not the whole compass of life. It will not be very comprehensive. It will not be very rich.

That's why people who have attained to any spirituality by fasting you will always find a little stupid. Moving among Jaina monks for many years I was suddenly surprised: I had never come across a really intelligent man. They all looked stupid.

The reason is deep. The reason is: they have been depending on fasting. They are trying to find a short-cut. Beware of short-cuts. Life doesn't like short-cuts because then you can move to the source without growing. You bribe, you don't grow. From hunger you can jump -- that means without knowing the whole complexity of life, the life of sex, love, aesthetic activity. You remain impoverished.

What I am saying is a fact -- you can go and look at Jaina monks; they are pure people, but stupid. Nobody can say anything against their purity. Pure they are, sincere they are, serious they are, but they have chosen a short-cut. They have been trying to bribe existence and reach home before their time. One can reach, but one will reach without growing, without maturity. A certain type of childishness you will find in them. Purity, but not enlightenment.

The fourth is physical activity. You can move from the fourth again -- from any point you can move to the source, you can drop out of the journey of the total circle.

Physical activity has been used by hatha yoga. Hatha yoga developed a total science out of it: how to move just by physical activity, by sheer physical force, to the source.

Hatha yogis are powerful people, they have control over their bodies -- nobody can claim that much control. They can lie down underneath the earth for months, even for years.

One fakir in Egypt remained underground for forty years. The people who had buried him all died. And he had told them: "After forty years you should open my tomb, break the seal and open the door of my underground chamber. And after forty years I'll be coming back -- alive."

People who knew about him by and by died. In fact, he was forgotten. It was just a coincidence that somebody was doing some research work and was looking in old newspapers and there he found the news.

He was buried in 1880. And in 1920 he was discovered. The tomb was opened -- he was alive. And he lived three years more after it; and he was perfectly healthy.

Many cases with fakirs and hatha yogis are known: they can take any sort of poison and it will not mix in their system. It will go in their stomach and they will throw it in the urine, but it will not mix anywhere. X-rays have been taken and it seems miraculous that the poison passes through not mixing with anything in the body. There seems to be a subtle protection around the blood.

By sheer willpower, by sheer physical force, hatha yogis have attained many things. But nothing of spirituality, nothing of real growth. If you look in their faces you will find them almost dead. If you look in their eyes you will not find the glimmer of intelligence, understanding.

Physical activity can sometimes also give you a feeling, a glimpse. Running fast, completely absorbed in running so that the whole energy has become running, suddenly you can have glimpses of the original being. Beautiful. That's why so many people become attracted to athletics. It gives glimpses.

There are reports that people on the front in war sometimes attain to glimpses of the origin.

That may be one of the causes of the attraction of war, because in violence, in deep violence, your physical capacity is used to the utmost. And when the physical capacity is used to the utmost suddenly you relax -- back to the first state. You become like a child.

This has been my experience with many soldiers. I have many followers in the army. They are innocent people -- more innocent than people who are in the market, more innocent than business men, a childlike quality is in them because they are doing so much physical activity the whole energy is absorbed, they cannot be cunning. Even generals are childish, simple. That's why soldiers can follow any type of order -- even foolish orders. If you tell them to jump and die, they will die, because they have been trained to follow; they will not give a second thought to it. They are just like children.

But again the circle is not complete. You have jumped from the middle.

After the fourth is the fifth, sex. If you really move deep in sex you will have glimpses of satori, of samadhi. Just between physical activity and sex the half circle is complete -- that's why sex is so important. Between the physical activity and sex the circle is half complete.

And there is more danger now because one can take sex as the total, as the all, as the goal. It can give you a few glimpses. If sex really happens if you allow it to happen if you become possessed by it so you are not doing it, you are possessed by it, the energy is doing something, you are just a spectator at the most, then there happens an orgasm, a deep blissful state. That is dangerous because you can mistake it as the goal. Many people have mistaken it for the goal.

Very few people are clinging to the second stage -- thirst, very few people; there have been a few sects in the world who have tried to remain thirsty for long periods, particularly in deserts. There have been a few sects of monks who have tried to remain thirsty, just like fasting, to bridge a direct line with the original source, to fall back.

More often than that, hunger has been used. In all the religions of the world there are trends, sects which use fasting.

And physical activity is used even more often than hunger.

Just a few days ago I was reading about a new training which every day is becoming more and more attractive in America: EST. This man, the founder of EST, Erhardt, forces people for four, five days to sit for hours together -- twelve hours, fourteen hours, sixteen hours, you are not even allowed to go to the bathroom; you have to sit; you are only allowed to go to the bathroom at particular times -- six hours you will have been accumulating urine in the bladder. It is sheer willpower, it is painful but you have been holding it -- it is a sort of hatha yoga -- for up to ten hours, twelve hours, and then suddenly you are allowed to go. The bladder relaxes, and you have a beautiful pleasant feeling all around the body inside and out. This is an old trick. Hatha yogis have been doing many sorts of tricks like that. You can attain a glimpse.

If you fast you have to use will. With too much physical activity you have to use will. Gurdjieff used physical activity very much. He would say to people: Go on working for twelve hours until you fall -- not that you stop, you fall down, you cannot do anything more, you see yourself falling; you cannot do anything, the legs won't move, they wobble, and you are just a watcher and you cannot do anything because you have done whatsoever could be done and you fall to the ground. That falling would give a beautiful glimpse.

Whenever -- and this is the rule: whenever the whole takes possession of you and your ego is no more functioning, the whole functions; then you have a beautiful feeling; but these beautiful feelings are not the goals. They are toys to play with, chocolates -- nothing more; chocolates on the path of spirituality. Enjoy them but don't cling to them, they cannot be food, they are not nourishing.

The fifth is the most dangerous because the most potential. Tantra has used the fifth to bridge the gap. From sex to samadhi, the gap can be bridged very easily But still it is not complete.

If you move beyond sex then a different type of activity arises in you: intelligence.

A sort of genius is released. You can observe this. People who are deeply intelligent you will always find bachelors. The reason is their whole energy has been absorbed by their mental activity. They attain to their orgasms through their minds. That's why all over history people who have attained to great mental activity you will find always bachelors. Or even if they are not bachelors they are not much interested in sex.

But that too is lopsided. No need to drop sex. Use all that God has given to you. But go on. Make it a step to move further.

If you go beyond sex only then for the first time your intelligence starts functioning well. You have great insight into things. Many people cling to that state. They become theologians, philosophers, thinkers, scientists, and they think the goal is achieved. The goal is not yet achieved.

If you go beyond the sixth, mental activity, then love is born. Then your heart starts functioning. The same energy is moving. The same energy that took the first breath, was hungry, thirsty, became sexual, became mental now becomes the energy of the heart. Love arises. But love also is not the goal.

You can remain in love, it is a beautiful phenomenon, and you have gone far enough -- it is the seventh step. Just a little more and the circle will be complete.

People who are of the heart will look to you to be very evolved: St. Francis of Asissi, and others -- they will look to you very very evolved, you will have a different feeling of their being, their quality will be different. If you come near them you will feel a magnetic force; they will have a field of energy, they can pull you in. Near them your own heart starts functioning. Very evolved people -- but still the evolution is not complete.

If you go beyond love then real aesthetic activity starts. Then poetry arises in your being. Then for the first time you have the capacity to feel music. Then for the first time you look around and the beauty of nature is revealed. Then you listen to the harmony of the universe, the symphony of the stars. Then everything starts to become more and more beautiful. Layers and layers of beauty are revealed. Your eyes have a penetrating force. Wherever you look you go deep. Even in rocks you feel flowers blossoming. But this too is not the end. Many cling to this, and there is much temptation because this is just the last step. The goal is just in front of you. And it always happens when the goal is just in front of you one relaxes, feeling that one has arrived. But unless you become the goal you have not arrived. The temple may be just in front of you but unless you have become one with the god of the temple you have not arrived.

These people , aesthetic people, become great mystics. They talk of the beauty of God, they have become Bauls, madmen of God, Sufis.... That is the last. One step more -- and that step is the spiritual.

This ninth step is again the first, the circle is complete. Again you start breathing but not like a child, like a sage.

A child breathes unconsciously. He does not know what is happening. God has entered in him but he does not know, he has not heard the footsteps; he was so fast asleep in the womb, so deep in darkness, he has not seen anything. How could he see? He was not even alive, he was unconscious.

A child breathes in unconsciousness. A sage breathes consciously. He is again a child, a rebirth has happened. Now he breathes but he is aware. This is anapansa-sati yoga Buddha.

This is the way of Tao: how to breathe consciously.

One observes. One relaxes into oneself and looks, looks at the breathing, follows it, moment to moment: incoming, outgoing; and there are beautiful happenings. When you follow the breathing you immediately become calm and quiet. The tranquility is such that you have never known before. Just watch. If you watch the breathing even for a few seconds, you will feel you are settling somewhere. A centering happens.

The breathing goes down. Then there is a gap the breathing stops -- a very small interval. In that gap there is no breathing only you are only the watcher is -- nothing to be watched. In that moment suddenly you know yourself.

These are the techniques of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, The Book of Secrets. They were told to Parvati.

Then when the breathing goes out you follow again; when the breathing moves out of you, then again there is a gap, a very subtle gap. Breathing stops. The object has disappeared. Only consciousness. Only you. Only the seer, the witness. Again suddenly you are elated. This goes on. By and by breathing becomes an outer phenomenon. You know that you are, Whether breathing goes on or stops makes no difference. Then you come to know that you are eternal, deathless.

Such a man while dying will see his breath has left him and will be aware, watching it. He will die watchfully, and one who dies watching, never dies. He has come to know the deathlessness. Through breathing he has discovered the vital principle of life. Breathing was just the outer layer of it, the outer shell, now he has come to know the content. Breathing was just the container. The circle is complete. And I am for the whole circle.

That's why many times I appear to be against many religious people. Because they cling somewhere. Good as far as they go, but one should go the whole way. One should go to the last point from where no more going is possible.

Jesus says: "Unless you become like children you will not enter my kingdom of God." I go on repeating it again and again, in different meanings. People like Jesus have multi-meanings in their words. Unless you become like a child again, unless you breathe again in a totally different way, you will not be resurrected, you will not be reborn. And this rebirth is the goal; the very meaning, significance of life. Unless you attain to it you are missing something tremendous -- and it is just by the corner.

And I am for the circle. Move to the very end. Let the circle have a natural ending. Don't try to find any short-cut. Then you will be rich -- rich like Lao Tzu, rich like Krishna, rich like Buddha. Otherwise you can move somewhere from the middle -- but then you will not be rich.

Don't be clever with life. You cannot be cunning with life: all short-cuts are cunning. Let life have its own natural course. You follow it, you don't force it.

And always remember that whatsoever is done is done by the whole, you are not the doer. If you can remember that, then breath is his thirst, is his hunger, is his sex, is his love, is his whatsoever happens is his, death is his. And you remain completely pure and innocent out of it.

The whole goes on doing, you are not the doer. This is the surrender, surrendering the ego: I am not the doer. This is the whole message of the Gita: Let the whole do, don't you come in because you are the only barrier. If you come in you commit sin. This is my definition of sin: If you say: "I breathe," this is a sin. If you say: "I love", this is a sin. If you say he breathes this is virtue. If you say he loves, this is virtue. And this is not only a saying, you have to feel it in its totality. Then you are unburdened. Then wings grow on you, you can fly. Then the gravitation cannot affect you. The gravitation can affect only the ego.

If he is the doer, then why be worried? Then you are not in any hurry to reach anywhere, then you have no private goal, then his goal is yours, and wherever he is going he is always right because there cannot be any wrong for the whole. The whole alone is.

This is the circle of Tao: from breath, unconscious breath, to conscious breath.

And the emphasis of Lao Tzu is continuously that you can relax. That's why he praises the weak not the strong, because the strong cannot relax. That's why he goes on praising water not rocks, because water is flowing, and water has no shape of its own.

Whatsoever shape is given by the whole, the water takes it. It does not carry its own mind. If you put it in a glass it becomes of that shape. If you put it in a bottle it takes that shape. It does not resist, it does not say: "I have my own shape, what are you doing to me? Don't force me in this bottle!" Wherever you put the water, it moves, takes the shape. It is non-resistant. It is non-violent, non-aggressive. It has no mind of its own.

But a rock? A rock has a mind of its own. If you want to force it, it will resist. You will have to fight, you will have to cut it, fight it, much fight will be needed -- only then will you be able to give it shape. It has its own mind. Water is mindless. These are symbols.

Lao Tzu says: Be like water, don't be like a rock, so that you can complete the circle. Move! If God is hungry within you -- eat! If God feels sleepy within you -- sleep! If God feels like loving -- love! Move with the God, you don't come in the way. Let things, the whole, have its own course. You simply follow it. Even to say follow it is not good because even a follower has some resistance. That's why he says I am for the lower. You simply be one with it.

Now the sutra.

There is nothing weaker than water but none is superior to it in overcoming the hard, for which there is no substitute.

He is tremendously in love with water. All the qualities of water have very symbolic meanings for Lao Tzu; one: it is soft, has no form of its own.

A man should be like water, with no form, no mind, no ideology. If you are a Hindu or a Mohammedan you are like a rock. If I ask you: "Who are you?" and you shrug your shoulders and say: "I don't know, I don't know, how I can be a Hindu, or how I can be a Mohammedan?" -- beautiful. That shrugging of the shoulders is beautiful. You don't have any ideology, you are like water. If you are a communist or a socialist or a fascist you are like a rock. People with ideologies are dead. They have a certain belief -- a form. And they are resistant. A person who has no belief, no ideology, no form, belongs to no church, is flowing -- like water. Wherever he moves, whatsoever situation comes, he responds. He responds always in the present. A man of ideology is never in the present: he has to look to the ideology -- how to react? He reacts, he does not respond. He has already a mind.

If you ask a communist any question the answer is ready-made. It is already there. He has not to think about it. In fact he is not answering you at all. the answer was already there before you talked to him. He is just giving a ready-made answer, a cliché. He has learnt it by heart. It is not a conscious phenomenon. He is not in this moment. He repeats like a parrot. He may be repeating Kapital or Koran -- it makes no difference.

A man who is really alive is responsive. He has no answers. When the question arises he responds to the question -- and the answer is created. In fact he is as much surprised by the answer as you will be surprised. He never knew it! Because there was no situation like this before. He is like water. Water is soft.

The second thing: Water is always flowing low, "low-wards," finding, seeking low places, valleys. That too is very very important for Lao Tzu. He says: Never try to go upwards, because then there is fight, because all are going upwards. Never try to go to New Delhi because everybody is going there; there is going to be competition, jealousy, fight, struggle. Move to the valley where nobody is going. Don't be like fire, be like water.

Fire moves upwards, water moves "low-wards," it always goes towards the ocean, the lowest place in the world. It seeks the low. If it can find a still lower place it immediately starts moving. It is always for the lowest place. Why? Because the lower you move, the less competition, the less violence, the less aggression -- and you are not fighting with anybody;. and if you fight with anybody one thing is certain: you cannot live yourself. The whole energy becomes fight.

Politicians never live their lives. They don't have any time, They don't have any space, they don't have any energy to live their life. They are always fighting others. They end fighting.

A man who wants to live, should never be a politician.

Water is very non-political.

Be like water. Move, find the lowest place where nobody is to compete, because nobody wants to go there. Then you can relax. Then you can be yourself. And that is the glory. If you can be yourself you will become a god.

Because you are a god, it just has to be discovered. You already have it within you, you just need time, space, relaxation, leisure so you can relax on a beach, lie down naked under the sun on the sands -- and not a worry in the world. Because you are not a fighter, you are not in any competition. This is renunciation.

Not that you go to the Himalayas -- because those who go to the Himalayas, they are seeking the peaks. And even in the Himalayas there is much competition. Gurus are in much competition: because somebody has more followers than you there is trouble; or someone has made a bigger ashram than you -- then there is trouble. Even in the Himalayas there is politics.

The sannyasins, the old sannyasins, are really politicians of the spiritual. They are moving higher. Their heaven is there, high in the skies! And Lao Tzu says: My heaven is there -- low, the lowest place in the world, where I can be myself, nobody bothers me and I don't bother anybody.

This is renunciation. You can live in the world, then there is no problem, if you just know not to be a competitor, because competition is for the ego. For the being, for your real being, no competition is needed; you are already that, the highest, so why bother for height?

Lao Tzu says this: Only inferior persons, people with inferiority complexes, try to reach the heights.

All politicians suffer from an inferiority complex. They need treatment, psychological treatment. They need much cleansing. They are inferior people -- deep down they suffer from inferiority. To hide that inferiority they fight to go high. When they reach, they become prime ministers and presidents, then they can say to the world: "Who says that I am inferior? Look! If I was inferior then how could I have attained to such heights? I am superior."

The longing for superiority belongs to the inferior man. A superior man doesn't bother. A superior man can afford to be inferior -- remember this. A superior man can afford to be inferior because it makes no difference, he is so superior; he is superior, there is no point in becoming a president of a country. That will not add anything to his stature; rather, it may degrade him.

Water has that quality of going low. And Lao Tzu says:

There is nothing weaker than water and yet none is superior to it in overcoming the hard.

Water overcomes. Go and see a waterfall. The rocks are so hard and the water so soft but rocks have been disappearing by and by. They have become sand already.

Scientists say that within seven thousand years the fall of Niagara will disappear, because all the rocks will disappear. The water is cutting the rocks continuously. Within seven thousand years there will be no fall because there will be no rocks. The whole hilly track will disappear. Rocks could not believe it -- how does it happen! Water, so weak -- and still it cuts deep.

Weakness also has a subtle strength in it. And you also know this if you are a little observant, you can see in life how it happens.

Woman is weak, man is hard, but always the woman wins and the man is defeated. Always. And even a great man like Napoleon, and people like that, they become like children before their women.

Josephine, the wife of Napoleon, could not believe how this man could win so many battles. She has written in a letter: "It is simply unbelievable because this Napoleon is nothing!" The last battle in which Napoleon was defeated, he was defeated because of Josephine, because the moment he was leaving the house she said: "No!" Just to see what he would do. And when the woman had said no, how could Napoleon go? So he had to stay. He reached the front one hour late. Because he always used to plan the whole war of the day, that day he couldn't plan it, somebody else had to plan it -- and he was defeated on that day. He was late -- he was never late in his life, this was for the first time. In fact it was not Napoleon who was defeated, it was a woman who had a victory that day. She said: "No, I say, no!"

Why do women become so powerful? Weakness is their secret, they are weak like water. In the beginning you say: "What can they do?" You are like rocks. But in the end you know, you have become like sand. All husbands by and by are converted to henpecked husbands. It is natural! If it has not happened to you something is wrong. And nothing is wrong in it.

It is said, it is an old story, that once Akbar asked his wise man, Birbal: "What do you think? Sometimes I become worried. All the people in my court look henpecked. Is there not even a single brave man?" Birbal said: "Difficult, but we will try to find one."

They were all brave men, they could put down their life in a single moment if it was ordered. Their bravery was not in any way suspected. Birbal made arrangements; he said: "Tomorrow, come decided that you will assert the truth. Anybody who tells a lie is going to the gallows. Think over it: the king wants to know the truth, whether you are afraid of your wife or not."

They all came. The king asked: "Those who are afraid of their wives should come to the right, and those who are not afraid, only they should remain on the left." All moved except a single tiny man. Even Akbar could not believe that this man whom he had never thought could be a brave man.... But at least seeing that one was there he said: "I am happy because I was thinking that not even a single man would be there." That man said: "Wait! Don't be happy so soon. When I was coming my wife said: 'Don't stand in the crowd!' That's why I am standing here."

It is natural -- the feminine principle wins. And Lao Tzu is all for the feminine principle. Why does the woman win? She is so soft. In fact she never fights, she persuades. She does not fight directly, her fight is very indirect and subtle. If she wants to say "No," she will not say "no" directly, but in a thousand and one ways her whole being will say "no." In the way she puts the plate down she will say "No," in the way she moves -- her sari will make a sound and say "no." She will not say "no," she will say "Yes," but her whole being will assert the "No." And when it is so subtle how to defeat it? If you love the woman you are defeated.

And it is good that the hard is defeated and the soft wins because that is the only possibility for God to win in the world.

The devil must be like rock. Hard. God must be soft. In fact in the East we have never thought of God as father, we have been thinking of God as mother. That insight is beautiful: God should not be thought of as father because then -- the male principle is hard. He should be thought of as mother, feminine.

God the mother seems better than God the father because his ways are also very subtle.

He persuades you to come towards him, he never forces you. You never meet him anywhere and still you go on searching for him. You never encounter him because that too will be too "hard." To be just before your eyes like a rock, a Himalayan rock, no, that won't be good. He follows you as a subtle aroma. You never encounter him. You would never come face to face with him. You will find him deep in the stirrings of your heart. You will not find him like a storm, he comes like a subtle breeze. Only those who are very subtle will be able to feel it. He comes like a flower.

In India we made the image of God in stone. That should not be done. To compensate we go and put flowers before it. A flower is more godlike than the stone. In fact stone images should disappear from the world. A flower is enough! Put the flower there -- and that becomes god. God is like a fragrance, not like a French perfume, so strong and aggressive, no, but very subtle, silent, non-aggressive. Only sometimes when you are tuned, you feel it; you miss it again and again. It is the music of the silence.

There is nothing weaker than water but none is superior to it in overcoming the hard, for which there is no substitute. That weakness overcomes strength and gentleness overcomes rigidity, no one does not know; no one can put into practice.

It is very difficult to know it. To understand it is possible; to know it, difficult. Knowledge is too gross. If you go to know it, you will miss it. But you can understand it -- what I call a tacit understanding is possible. If you watch life not in any way trying to know it....

There is a difference. If a scientist comes to this garden he will move aggressively, not that he will be aggressive, but he will move aggressively. His eyes will have aggression, he will look at the flowers, at the trees, to penetrate their secret, to know their nakedness, to know what they are. Science is like rape. It is not like love. He will cut, dissect, he will try to penetrate forcibly. to the secret.

Then comes a poet or a painter or a musician. He moves, but his movement is totally different. He moves watchfully of course -- it is holy ground, to be near a flower is to be near a temple, to be near an alive tree is to be near God. It is holy ground -- he moves very cautiously, he is watchful, alert, but he does not rape, he does not jump and be aggressive on he waits, waits with deep receptivity. If the plant has to give something he is ready, he will receive it with deep gratitude; but if the plant is not willing, let it be so. Then nothing can be done. A musician, a painter, a dancer, a poet, waits in receptivity: If you have something to give to me, if you feel that I am worthy of it, the plant, then I will receive it in deep gratitude; but if you feel I am not worthy, that's okay. Nothing can be done, I am helpless. He waits like a beggar. Not like Indian beggars, because they are very aggressive, their begging is very violent. No, he begs like a beggar if you call Buddha a beggar -- yes, we have called him bhikkhu, a beggar, Mahavir too, they were beggars of a totally different quality, of a totally different grandeur.

They were not aggressive -- they would come to your house, they would stand before your house, if you give, it is okay, they are grateful; if you don't give, then too they are grateful. Their gratefulness does not differ by your giving or not giving. They thank you, they pray for you, they move!

If you stand like that, like a bhikkhu, his hands spread, his heart open, ready to receive -- but not to take, then nature reveals its mystery.

It is not knowledge, knowledge is too gross a word. It is a tacit understanding. It is more like love than like knowledge. You love a person, then you know a person. Loving becomes a sort of knowing. Remember: "a sort of;" not exactly. It cannot be scientific, it cannot be mathematical, it cannot be logical: "a sort of, a kind of." You know deeply, heart to heart, but you cannot say this is knowledge. That will be too imprudent a word. You know because you love.

Says Lao Tzu:

No one does not know; no one can put into practice.

No one knows it, no one can practice it, because to practice such a deep tacit understanding is impossible. Practice is gross. You can live it, you cannot practice it. You can know it as an understanding, you can live it, you cannot practice it. A real man of understanding simply lives his understanding, he is not practicing.

People ask me: "When do you meditate?" I don't meditate. I cannot be so foolish! To meditate means to practice. How can you practice it? You can be it, but you cannot practice it. People ask me: "How do you pray?" I never pray. I live my prayers, I don't pray. Prayer is my way of living, my way of living is my prayer. It is not separate.

If you understand, you live it. If you know, then you have to practice it, because knowledge does not transform. You know something, then the mind asks: "How to do it now?"

All knowledge finally becomes technology, that's why science has become technology in the West. All knowledge finally becomes technology because just by knowing, nothing happens. First you know, then you ask: "How to do it?"

For example, Einstein discovered the theory of atomic energy somewhere in 1905. The theory was complete. But then scientists started asking: "How to do it?" In abstraction it was complete, the theory was absolutely logical and proved as a theory, but how to practice it? It took forty years to create an atom bomb and to destroy Nagasaki; then it became technology. It took knowledge forty years to become technology. Many more things are known but they will take time to become technology.

All science by and by is reduced to technology. Religion never becomes a technology, cannot become one, because it is not knowledge. You understand.... The very understanding is transforming; you are transfigured, transmuted, you are no more the same! You see, you watch, you understand a certain thing -- the very thing has changed your quality of being. Now you live differently. No practice is possible. Practice of little things is possible, great things cannot be practiced. Prayer is a great thing. Love is a great thing -- there can be no "Know-how" about it. Meditation is the last, the pinnacle. God. How can you practice God? You can become, but you cannot practice. And you can become because you already are -- just a little understanding.... You are standing in the dark; just a little light, a little illumination, and everything changes.

Lao Tzu says you cannot know it, you cannot practice it, but, the sage says:

Who receives unto himself the calumny of the world is the preserver of the state.

Who moves lowest is the sage, and who takes on himself the whole responsibility of the whole darkness of the world, who becomes like a Jesus -- he preserves the world. The world is not preserved by politicians, they are pretenders; the world is preserved by very few people who may not even be known to you, because even to know them is difficult, they live so ordinarily; they are lost deep in the woods of the world, you may not be knowing them.

There is a story in the Bible, a beautiful parable. There was a town called Sodom. From that town comes the word "sodomy." The people had become very corrupt. All sorts of sexual perversion were prevalent. People were homosexual, people were making love to animals -- the whole town was perverted. God decided to destroy the town. But there was one difficulty: there was one good man in the town. Unless the good man could be persuaded to leave the town, the town could not be destroyed.

Angels were sent to persuade the good man: "Please, leave the town. Because of you the town cannot be destroyed." But the good man was difficult to persuade. He said: "I am needed here! Where should I go? These people are ill, these people are perverted, their lives are miserable, they live in hell -- I am needed here. And I am responsible for these people! Because they don't know and I know -- that's why I am responsible. Look!" he said, "because they don't know, how can you tell them they are responsible? They are doing all sorts of things unknowingly. They are completely oblivious, ignorant, not remembering what they are doing. They are as if drunkards. I am the only one who knows what is happening, and if I go, then who will save them? I am responsible for them."

So it is said the good man was persuaded in a very cunning way. He was told: "There is another town, Gomorrah, where people are even more corrupt. You please go there." So when the man was going to Gomorrah, Gomorrah and Sodom were both destroyed. Because he was just in the middle.

The world is preserved by very few people, a few people of crystal purity, of childlike innocence -- but they feel responsible. Because they are aware.

It is said that when Buddha reached nirvana, the last ultimate home, the doors were opened, there was great celebration, because centuries and centuries pass, then only one person comes and enters in those gates. But Buddha would not enter. He stood at the gate, his back towards the gate. They were worried, they asked: "Why are you standing there? The door is open and we have been waiting for you and there is much celebration and much jubilation -- Come in! Be a guest!"

The Buddha is reported to have said: "How can I come in? The whole world is suffering. I will stand here until the last man passes by, enters into the ultimate. I will have to wait -- I will be the last, I feel responsible. I am aware, and they are not aware so they cannot be responsible, but I am responsible."

The more aware you become the more responsible you become, the more you feel, the more you become a help -- not that you start serving people, but your whole life becomes a service. Not that you are doing something for them out of any obligation. No, you are simply fulfilling your own awareness.

Who bears himself the sins of the world is the king of the world.

Those are the real kings, who are not known to history. History goes on talking about mock kings, false kings. History has not yet become a really authentic phenomenon, otherwise it would talk about Buddha, Lao Tzu, it would talk about Kabir and Krishna and Christ, it would talk about Mohammed and Mahavir, it wouldn't talk about Napoleon, Hitler, Mao Tse-tung, Stalin, it wouldn't talk about these people.

These people are just mischievous, they are the mischief-makers. They are like diseases, they have to be eliminated. Because of them, the earth is a hell.

But history goes on talking about them, and every child is corrupted by history: talking about foolish, stupid people, mad, neurotic, perverted, and not talking about those who have attained to themselves. They are the real kings of the world.

Strange words seem crooked.

And Lao Tzu says: these words are very strange. But they will look crooked to people because they are crooked.

OSHO : Nothing Weaker Than Water, Volume 4, Chapter 9

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